Picasso: 25 Years of Edition Ceramics from the Edward & Ann Weston Collection
Johnson, Mark M., Arts & Activities
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) undoubtedly ranks as one of the most inventive, prolific and influential artists of the modern world. Through his enormous originality, experimentation and vision, he almost single-handedly changed the nature of art.
The son of an art teacher, Picasso's great talent was apparent at an early age. Indeed, he held his first one-man show at the age of 16. From that time on, his incredible innovation and productivity found expression in a wide variety of styles and media.
While Picasso might be most recognized for his paintings or sculpture, he was equally renowned for his work in the graphic arts, and highly recognized for his ceramic objects. His impact in all these media, and others, was so significant that he would be considered as a dominant force even if he had focused on any one single medium.
In the summer of 1946 while vacationing oil the Mediterranean coast, he attended all exhibition of local handcrafts in nearby Vallauris. There he met Georges and Suzanne Ramie, owners of the Madoura Pottery. He asked their permission to make a few works and was willingly given a spot in the studio, where he created three pieces.
The next summer he returned with sketches and immediately went to work again modeling the clay into various shapes and decorating it with imagery similar to that used in his paintings. Over the next quarter century, especially during vacations, he devoted increasing amounts of time to his ceramic work.
From 1947 to 1971, the Ramies set aside space in their studio for Picasso to produce whenever and whatever he pleased. In return, Picasso allowed the Ramies to make and sell editions of the ceramic pieces he produced at Madoura, and to retain all profits. Picasso personally made thousands of individual ceramic pieces. He kept virtually all of his own thrown and hand-built pieces, most of which are now owned by his family or by museums.
Picasso actually took an interest in ceramics in the early years of the 20th century after being exposed to the ceramic artworks of Paul Gauguin. Forty years later, his experience at the Madoura workshop reawakened his interest in clay and rekindled his desire to transform this wonderful plastic material into sculptural and ornamented forms.
Working with skilled artisans, Picasso explored the endless aesthetic possibilities of jugs, vases, platters and plates. Sometimes the artist would purposely reposition handles and spouts to suggest anatomical features on a vessel. His uninhibited experimentation with clay continued with his adaptive and spontaneous use of color, glazes, textures, relief decoration, patterning, graphic treatments and firing techniques.
As his painted imagery often influenced his ceramic work, so too, the ceramics, in turn, inspired future prints and sculptures. …